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Walkers can follow Robert The Bruce

WALKERS are to be offered the chance to follow in the footsteps of Robert The Bruce and James IV, thanks to the work of a Glasgow academic.

Catriona Macmillan, a research associate with Glasgow University's Solway Centre in Dumfries, has retraced historic routes taken by those travelling to Whithorn, Galloway.

The town, home of the earliest recorded Christian community in Scotland and the location of a shrine to St Ninian, was popular with medieval pilgrims, many of whom were in search of miracle cures for their ailments.

The paths taken by the pilgrims to Whithorn have been mapped out by Ms Macmillan, by noting which abbeys and chapels offered hospitality and opportunities for worship, and by identifying the holy wells and sites pilgrims visited en route.

Robert The Bruce, crippled by illness in the final months of his life, is believed to have reached Whithorn in April 1329 in search of a remedy for his condition, which historians believe may have been leprosy.

Ms Macmillan said: "The roads to Whithorn are steeped in history and legend. I hope this report will encourage pilgrims, ramblers and history enthusiasts, be they local or from further afield, to tread these paths and discover some of the region's most intriguing ancient sites."

Whithorn has been seen as comparable the island of Iona in its importance to the history of Scottish Christianity. The story of St Ninian brought pilgrims and prosperity to Whithorn for a thousand years until the banning of pilgrimages at the time of the Reformation.

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